Step 1: Admit We Are Powerless

Hi there. I’m Vance Johnson, and today I want to discuss the first step in the 12-step recovery process. “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.” No matter where you are in your recovery, whether it’s your first time seeking sobriety or your tenth time, the first step is what gets you sober and keeps you sober.

The first step doesn’t have any room for half-measures. As addicts, we can’t just “have one glass of wine,” we need to accept that by the time we’ve had one, we’ve already gone too far. Taking this step stops you from using old excuses, like “it was one lousy night” and “I can stop whenever I want.” When I think of the first step, I think of Peter 2:19, which says “For whatever overcomes a person, to that, he is enslaved.” If you don’t want to be enslaved to your addiction anymore, then you have to stop completely.

Admitting to yourself and others that you don’t have control can feel uncomfortable. When I was in denial, I lied to myself so many times about having control. Finally, after drinking myself into a 28-day coma and losing my son, I had to acknowledge that I couldn’t control this. 

As a former NFL player, admitting defeat wasn’t my first language. But once I stopped making excuses and started making changes, I started to regain control of my life. I realized very quickly that asking for help did not make me powerless; instead, it empowered me. 

Tips for completing the first step:

  • Say it loud and proud: When I was first struggling with addiction and on my way to long-term recovery, I thought it would be better not to make a big deal of this life change. I would only talk about it with those who needed to know. The more I tried to hold it in, the worse my accountability got. I learned then that the more I admit to my addiction, the more accountable I am, and the less likely I am to relapse.
  •  Go to AA meetings: AA or NA meetings are great ways to get used to the first step. In these meetings, you are surrounded by others battling the same beast you are. Standing up every day and saying out loud, “My name is Vance Johnson, and I am an addict,” forced me to face the truth over and over again until I was able to take accountability and stop lying to myself.

The Vance Johnson Recovery Center Can Help

At the Vance Johnson Recovery Center, my team and I work every day to help patients achieve long-term recovery. No other addiction treatment center offers our trauma-informed levels of care in a way that is as compassionate and thorough as our rehab center.

Would you like to discuss how you can start your addiction recovery today? You can call our admissions specialists at 1-888-82-VANCE, or you can fill out our online contact form. Remember, it’s never too late or too early to start recovery. The best time to start is always today.

About the author

Vance Johnson is a former wide-receiver for the Denver Broncos, from 1985-1995. At the height of his career, Vance was in the throes of an addiction to alcohol and various recreational drugs. Vance finally began to take his recovery seriously and underwent inpatient addiction treatment. Today, Vance is drug-and-alcohol-free and encouraging others to get sober. As a Recovery Ambassador, Vance participates in speaking engagements across the country, where he recounts his struggles and offers hope that truly anyone can get sober.

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